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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Striking out on my own... maybe
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09/24/2008 12:13:57 PM · #1
Hello All -

I have two things: A love of photography and no job (laid off).

I am taking this time to explore my opportunities to put my heart where my money is, and vice versa. I hope this not too broad a topic, but I would love to have my eyes opened to the joys and pitfalls of starting my own photography business. Thinking about pretty much anything except weddings.

Thoughts please!

Mark
09/24/2008 12:15:38 PM · #2
I havent' updated this is a few weeks but Here's my 2 cents
09/24/2008 12:55:45 PM · #3
There are a couple of threads, one from the past week, that covers some of these topics.

Weddings are relatively easy to get and give a big buck for one sale so they're popular way to go. Shooting 'little heads' of some kind pays well (like schools, team and individual sports leagues, etc) but don't require much 'artistic ability' shall we say. These types of jobs are somewhat hard to get and very seasonal - like school pics are taken diuring the next month, so you're pretty much out of luck till next year. Spring sports are probably your next opportunity for this type of work, but teh leagues are run by volunteers that don't want to take chances on something new if what they've got is working well. So you need to find a newbie in the position or a league that's not been happy with teh photog in years past.

Xmas is coming so there are some opportunities for xmas events, etc. Start today - ocotber is usually too late to get things booked and marketed.

Unless you have experience in the field (as in running a studio not just taking pics) you will have to start a business from nothing - no workflow, no banking, no accounting, no filing, no processes for anything. It can be done of course, but it takes time and you probably won't be very effecient in the beginning (my first wedding album took 20 hours. Last one took 1.5 for example).

It can take years till your business begins make enough money to pay you a living wage. I'm 4 years in and just now starting to see enough money in my pocket that my wife is happy. In other words, don't expect to me making $50,000 next year.
09/24/2008 01:00:17 PM · #4
BTW why anything except weddings?
09/24/2008 01:08:10 PM · #5
That is funny, if I shot professionally, I think I might avoid weddings also. For me the reason is simple, the sheer amount of confusion of so many people, much much different from studio work, but more importantly is the importance of marriage to people. A wedding cannot be redone, because of rain, or inexperience and error on the photographers part. It is a very important time to those involved, and part of that is recording that time to enjoy years later. I would be terrified of screwing up someones wedding memories.
09/24/2008 01:18:19 PM · #6
Originally posted by togtog:

That is funny, if I shot professionally, I think I might avoid weddings also. For me the reason is simple, the sheer amount of confusion of so many people, much much different from studio work, but more importantly is the importance of marriage to people. A wedding cannot be redone, because of rain, or inexperience and error on the photographers part. It is a very important time to those involved, and part of that is recording that time to enjoy years later. I would be terrified of screwing up someones wedding memories.


A little terror is healthy when it comes to weddings... get too complacent an things WILL go wrong... to this day I still get butterflies when it come to doing the wedding day
09/24/2008 02:01:03 PM · #7
The only advice I can offer is: Don't refer to it as "Striking Out" or you'll be doomed from the start. ;-) Best of luck.

ps: I will add that Prof_Fate offers excellent and very detailed advice with a good dose of reality. Worth paying attention to.
09/24/2008 02:33:40 PM · #8
Find a job that pays for your hobbies. That way it stays a joy instead of a job.

There's a reason it's called work.

Edit: If you're really into it, take a class on business, accounting, and marketing. Remember, photography as a job is only 10% photography, the rest is about the business.

Message edited by author 2008-09-24 14:35:23.
09/24/2008 04:17:53 PM · #9
Originally posted by togtog:

That is funny, if I shot professionally, I think I might avoid weddings also. For me the reason is simple, the sheer amount of confusion of so many people, much much different from studio work, but more importantly is the importance of marriage to people. A wedding cannot be redone, because of rain, or inexperience and error on the photographers part. It is a very important time to those involved, and part of that is recording that time to enjoy years later. I would be terrified of screwing up someones wedding memories.


Add to it the fact that I am in a wheelchair, and I think that speed and accessibility of opportune moments I may miss - which I would hate. Plus, I have (probably like most artistic types) a horribly critical eye to my own work - I couldn't stand making errors on someone's special day, whether not they see them.
09/24/2008 04:47:11 PM · #10
Originally posted by MarkRob:

Originally posted by togtog:

That is funny, if I shot professionally, I think I might avoid weddings also. For me the reason is simple, the sheer amount of confusion of so many people, much much different from studio work, but more importantly is the importance of marriage to people. A wedding cannot be redone, because of rain, or inexperience and error on the photographers part. It is a very important time to those involved, and part of that is recording that time to enjoy years later. I would be terrified of screwing up someones wedding memories.


Add to it the fact that I am in a wheelchair, and I think that speed and accessibility of opportune moments I may miss - which I would hate. Plus, I have (probably like most artistic types) a horribly critical eye to my own work - I couldn't stand making errors on someone's special day, whether not they see them.


i would think that being in a whelchair would give you a unique perspective and viewpoint on a wedding... I wouldn't see that as a hinderance at all.
09/24/2008 05:20:03 PM · #11
In the photo club I ran (company club) we set up lights and a backdrop in a local dinner and shot family photos for the holidays. We put up advertisements around work and took appointments. We just burned the originals to a CD and gave them the photos with a note from the photographer so they would not have hassles printing them. We charged $25 for as many poses as you wanted to get in in 15 minutes. In three nights, 3-4 hours per night, we cleared nearly $1,000 and the consensus from our customers was that we didn't charge enough! They've done the same thing twice since I've left and I think it's up to $40 this year. We started at $25 because we never did it before, didn't really know what we were doing and didn't want anyone to be dissapointed. We only needed 2-3 people there to run it efficently.

I imagine if you throw in printing and photoshop work, there would be a lot $$$ to be made!

Also, we use to go to a local motorcross track and shoot. Races or practice. One person shooting, one person with a laptop and a printer set up in the parking lot. 8x10's for $25 each and the line gets really long! Easy way to make good cash and they guys love to show of for the camera so you get sme great shots! Just be sure to get shots of everyone as you never know who is going to buy!
09/24/2008 07:20:40 PM · #12
Originally posted by Nullix:

Find a job that pays for your hobbies. That way it stays a joy instead of a job.

There's a reason it's called work.

Edit: If you're really into it, take a class on business, accounting, and marketing. Remember, photography as a job is only 10% photography, the rest is about the business.


SOOOOO true. I still enjoy the photography but I also enjoy the business aspect - seeing my ideas take hold and grow is pretty darned cool. But I rarely if ever shoot for 'fun' anymore.
09/24/2008 09:36:37 PM · #13
Originally posted by Eyesup:

Originally posted by MarkRob:

Originally posted by togtog:

That is funny, if I shot professionally, I think I might avoid weddings also. For me the reason is simple, the sheer amount of confusion of so many people, much much different from studio work, but more importantly is the importance of marriage to people. A wedding cannot be redone, because of rain, or inexperience and error on the photographers part. It is a very important time to those involved, and part of that is recording that time to enjoy years later. I would be terrified of screwing up someones wedding memories.


Add to it the fact that I am in a wheelchair, and I think that speed and accessibility of opportune moments I may miss - which I would hate. Plus, I have (probably like most artistic types) a horribly critical eye to my own work - I couldn't stand making errors on someone's special day, whether not they see them.


i would think that being in a whelchair would give you a unique perspective and viewpoint on a wedding... I wouldn't see that as a hinderance at all.


I am thinking about a good friend who had a wedding at Pretty Place, near the SC/NC border. The chapel is all steps, all the time. The space in which I would be allowed to work and move would have been VERY limited.

No doubt, I have a different perspective with the chair - I do not consider it a hindrance in most opportunities. As an asset, I excel at photographing children because I am naturally at their level (and I have such interesting toys!).
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